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Electric fencing urged to protect chickens from predators

April 17, 2021 GMT

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department is urging people raising chickens for eggs or meat to install electric fencing and take other precautions to protect their birds from predators.

“We are already getting reports of bears hitting bird feeders and expect to be receiving additional reports soon about bears, foxes, raccoons, fisher, coyotes, skunks, and bobcats preying on chickens,” Forrest Hammond, Vermont’s bear biologist, said in a written statement on Wednesday. “Many of the calls will be coming from people who are new at keeping chickens and who do not provide sufficient protection for their birds.”

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Last year, the department received a record 167 reports of bears getting after chickens, Hammond said. The number has been increasing in recent years, he said.

He urged the use of electric net fencing while also installing one-quarter-inch hardware cloth, especially along the bottom of an enclosure to block most small predators. Other tips are to cover the tops of pens with wire or plastic netting to keep out birds of prey and climbing predators and to bury galvanized hardware cloth or netting 12 inches deep around the perimeter to prevent digging predators from entering.

Motion-activated lights and alarms can also discourage some predators and poultry feed should be stored indoors in tight containers, the department said.